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Tanzanians urged to check biometrically registered SIMs, tidy links before January cut off

8 million Ghanaian SIMs blocked
Tanzanians urged to check biometrically registered SIMs, tidy links before January cut off

To ensure their safety, Tanzanians are being reminded to check they have biometrically registered their SIM cards, phone lines and internet connections ahead of the current deactivation deadline of 31 January 2023. Millions of SIMs have been deactivated via previous rounds, as is also the case this month in Ghana.

A campaign is underway by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) urging people to check that they have successfully undergone biometric verification with their telecoms providers. This involves biometric checks by the companies of their customers against their national ID cards.

Mobile phone users can dial *106# on any network to go through a series of menus to check that they have done the registrations and also to ensure that all numbers linked to their ID are in fact their own numbers and still current. Subscribers are also encouraged to tag their main number as opposed to additional lines they run.

The TCRA’s head of tele-traffic management, Sadath Kalolo, urged people to contact service providers should they discover any numbers registered against their IDs which are not theirs, reports Tanzania’s Guardian. Kalolo said that SIM verification began in December 2022 and continues until the end of January when unverified SIMs will be blocked.

A person cannot register a line for someone else except for children. Tanzanians who have turned 18 during the years of SIM registration exercises are urged to register their lines in their own names.

Edson Guyai, acting director of ID Management for the country’s National Identity Authority (NIDA), has said in a previous ID4Africa livecast that Tanzania has doubled its ID count to around 20 million.

Vodacom Tanzania said that previous timelines for SIM blocks had come as a surprise and that the firm had had to buy 20,000 registration devices. It lost over 9 million subscribers in one round. MNOs formed a consortium and bought 25,000 devices. The firms did state that fraud rates have fallen, such as for mobile money.

The process has also led them to reform their databases which are cleaner and clearer, linking multiple numbers to one user.

Millions of previously blocked SIM cards have been reactivated once users have gone through biometric registration.

8M Ghana SIM cards deactivated

Since the biometric SIM card registration exercise began in October 2021, more than eight million unregistered cards have been deactivated, reports Developing Telecoms.

The latest deadline to register a SIM to a Ghana Card and undergo biometric checks was 30 November 2022 after appeals for a further extension failed. MTN Ghana found that 5.7 million SIMs had not gone through the two-step registration, a quarter of its subscribers.

A recent concession was made so that if someone did not have a Ghana Card at all, their SIM would remain active. Those with the national ID but who had not undergone all steps should by now have seen their phones go silent.

Subscribers can unblock SIMs if they complete biometric data submission by the end of May 2023, according to Developing Telecoms.

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